24" iMac vs. Baseline Nehalem Quad

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Zach Schible, Jun 19, 2009.

  1. Zach Schible macrumors member

    Zach Schible

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2009
    Location:
    Indiana
    #1
    What I have:
    2006 2.0 GHz, 2 GB RAM. Its an oldie and really showing its age. I was an early adopter and didn't really consider the future when I bought this. The battery no longer works, and the optical drive can only read not write.

    Problem:
    Trying to decide between a 24" iMac 3.06 GHz, 4 GB RAM, 640 GB HD vs. a mac pro, 2.66GHz Quad-Core Nehalem, 3GB RAM, 640 GB HD

    Budget:
    $2500US

    What I need:
    To explain this I will describe my workflow. Normally I use have Photoshop, Adobe Bridge, TweetDeck, Stickies, Cyberduck, Adium, Rapidweaver, Firefox, & Safari, open all at the same time. I usually run Lightroom & InDesign on their own because of the amount of proc power and mem they take up. I know that sounds crazy but I am a photographer and small time web designer. I need a computer that will run these things well and much better than my current computer. I want to know what would really be better for my needs an iMac or a baseline Mac Pro. The reason I ask is the MBP I own now is all I know. I have no experience with anything more powerful than my 2GHz Core Duo machine.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks.
     
  2. Eidorian macrumors Penryn

    Eidorian

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2005
    Location:
    Indianapolis
  3. stormtroopar macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2009
    #3
    You might want to look at this thread I posted a while ago, it almost exactly address your question.

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=704901

    The short answer would be, MacPro would be the way to go Definitely! You will find much more stable and steady performance and fast interaction speed. The iMac even the 3.06ghz will choke a little bit if you throw too much at it or too intensive processing. if you are Not much so for even the baseline MacPro. Its performance I have to say is quite solid. Even throwing many things at it at once. I spent quite some time testing both of these just to answer the vary same question for myself.

    Good luck.
     
  4. Zach Schible thread starter macrumors member

    Zach Schible

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2009
    Location:
    Indiana
    #4
    Thanks for that. I was looking for someone who had actually worked with the two. Can I assume that you own the Mac Pro now, and if you do how has that worked out for you.
    Thanks.
     
  5. stormtroopar macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2009
    #5
    My MacPro is on the way.. :) I have used iMac quite extensively in the past. I teach at a school where they use only iMacs. This is for 3d classes and we used Maya, zbrush, and photoshop. In my personal time, I have used iMac with Aperture, lightroom, Final Cut, a bit of all the adobe software, premiere and such....

    Don't get me wrong, the iMac is actually quite impressive for what it is and works fast in general. I almost want to get it, but its when you have multiple apps open, doing a lot of things at the same time, memory intensive apps usage.. etc. is when it can get a little slow. It can choke during these times. If you were just using 1 to 2 apps at a time and don't constantly have full scenes / files open on them at all times, the iMac should still be very fast. At least this is my experience with them thus far.

    From my tests with the MacPro, I did not run into any of those issues at all. Even as I am rendering out a movie from final cut pro and I am editing some photos in Aperture, I don't notice much slow down. This will definitely cause a slow down with an iMac.

    Other reasons for the MacPro is upgradability. I can change to a SSD hard drive easily, swap out video cards, add more than 8 gigs of ram.. etc. I can't do that with the iMac or not very easily anyway in the case of HD. So for the long run and the longevity of the system, for me, the MacPro ended up better. Its going to cost me more, but I am almost definitely sure its going to last me longer as well.
     
  6. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #6
    Mac Pro. :)

    But here's something to consider:

    Given the applications you've listed, you may benefit from RAID. If you have an inclination in this direction, and want to go with a hardware implementation, you'd be better off with the '08 model. It's much easier to install an internal array with 3rd party products (cards). The '09's OTOH, use the PCIe traces in slot 4 to transfer data to the drives (ports are soldered directly to the board, rather than a cable as in the previous model). Only the Apple RAID card can use this ('09), and it's not a good card. An internal array would be possible in the '09, but not easy to do, and would mean either losing the HDD ports on the board, or the optical bays. (Relocate the ODD to an external enclosure). Otherwise, the only resort is strictly external. Not cheap at all.

    If you only plan on software RAID, or none at all, then it's not a concern. :p

    Then there's the cost... ;) You could get an Octo machine within your budget, rather than a Quad. Nehalem is nice, but not worth the price hikes that came with the machines IMO. :rolleyes: :(

    I hope this helps, and makes sense. ;) :)
     
  7. dryjoy macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    #7
    Logic

    I had to make the same sort of choice, but my useage is different to yours. Mine is for Logic Pro. I had to decided between a 2.93 or 3.06 Ghz iMac or Quad Nehalem Pro, and decided on the latter, because I felt that my Logic use would benefit from the four cores, and to avoid the mess of external HDs that are essential for Audio work with an iMac.
    Also, I felt that for my purposes, if I went for an iMac I would be paying for a nice screen which I don't really need, as it's the music I care about not the display quality, so I spent my money on the Pro and bought a cheap 22" monitor, which is fine for letting me see what I'm doing in Logic, and put the rest of what I would have spent on an Apple display towards my audio interface.
    IMO, the 2009 Quad Pro is brilliant, I love it, but there again, I'm easily impressed as I have just moved from a 400MHz Sawtooth G4! I hope that this new machine will last me a while, and although it might not keep up with the future as well as an eight core 2008 or 2009, I am sure it was a better choice than the iMac. These Quad Pros are not cheap, but I got it with UK HE discount, which made quite a difference, and I was able to say to myself that without the discount, I could easily have spent the same amount on an iMac which I believe would not be able to serve me for so long.
     
  8. Zach Schible thread starter macrumors member

    Zach Schible

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2009
    Location:
    Indiana
    #8
    Yeah it does, Thanks for pointing that out for me. U have never done RAID before but have always thought about it. I imagine as I take on more projects and such that a RAID will be something I need in the future so this is a good thing for me to consider.

    The question is where can I find great condition '08 Mac Pros? I guess I will start doing some searches.
     
  9. Zach Schible thread starter macrumors member

    Zach Schible

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2009
    Location:
    Indiana
    #9
    Thanks for the reply. I sure bet you noticed a difference between a G4 and a Mac Pro, wow.
     
  10. Bill Gates macrumors 68020

    Bill Gates

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2006
    Location:
    127.0.0.1
    #10
    Actually, there is a workaround. If you look here, on Bare Feats, you can see how outclassed the Apple card is compared to other cards. Furthermore, the only reason these benchmarks were possible is due to a third-party product that allows you to use thrid-party raid controllers on the new Mac Pro, described and linked to on that same page, or click here to go directly to the product's webpage.
     
  11. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #11
    :confused:

    I do have RAID installed in my system. It's just not a Mac Pro. I had an '08 MP briefly, but returned it as it wasn't the best solution for my needs. When Nehalem came out, I built one to my specs.
    Refurbs are something to be on the lookout for. PowerMax.com, is another site to watch. Then there's eBay or Craigs List.

    Perhaps another member or two can chime in with a few other places. ;)
    I figured it could be done via cabling, and using '08 MP sleds, or possibly repositioning the drives on their existing ones. But it would have been daunting. (I've posted this in another thread or two).

    I wasn't aware the MaxConnect had such a solution. :eek: It's been awhile since I've been to their site or barefeats (Rob-Art), so thanks for heads up. :)

    This will be great news for users that want 3rd party RAID. :D
     
  12. Rick Here macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2007
    #12
    Surprised they took this approach. This is kind of a brute force hack. Why didn't they use the existing extra PCI-e lanes(used as SAS/SATA) in slot 4 and cable the card from them? It would have been a cleaner solution, although using up a PCI-e slot.
    Perhaps there is something tricky to switch from internal South Bridge SATA lanes to PCI-e RAID card lanes.
     
  13. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #13
    Intellectual Property is the most likely reason. ;)

    Apple's card would have to contain a routine to shut off 4 ports on the X58 chipset (the other 2 would remain active, or cause the loss of the ODD's), and their EFI firmware code isn't open. :eek: :p
     
  14. Rick Here macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2007
    #14
    Seems unlikely they would shut off 4 lanes in the X58, perhaps a routine or HW signal from the card to switch circuit on the Mac09 main board.
    But yes, if the EFI firmware code on card is doing this then IP gets in the way from others doing it. Apple loves proprietary. Locks in margin.
     
  15. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #15
    The X58 is where the ports are. :p Part of it is an ICH10R. ;) But it is the firmware that controlls it, and is certainly proprietary. Apple's implementation of EFI isn't standard EFI 1.10. :rolleyes: :(

    X58 Overview. Links to further details. :)
     
  16. wheezy macrumors 65816

    wheezy

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2005
    Location:
    Alpine, UT
    #16
    You do what I do - Photography and Web Design. I have an '08 MacPro 2.8 x 8 and it is fantastic for what I do. I've installed 6GB of RAM and frequently have PS CS3, Aperture, Coda, CSS Edit, MAMP, Mail, TweetDeck, Adium, Safari, VMWare (XP with 512 allocated), and iTunes open all the time. It never skips a beat. I don't hesitate to open Flash, anything from iLife etc at all.

    I've actually only hit the RAM Wall once, when I had Vista 64 running in VMWare. That pig sucked all my RAM dry just on bootup. Enough of that! All I do is test my sites in stupid IE, so XP is fine.

    OH - And the biggest benefit is the ability to do an internal RAID. It makes things fly when you have that going. I'm running 2 1TB Samsung F1 in a striped RAID and it just flies.
     
  17. Zach Schible thread starter macrumors member

    Zach Schible

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2009
    Location:
    Indiana
    #17
    Wow im sorry the U was supposed to be an I. I wasn't attacking you. thanks for the help. :)
     
  18. Zach Schible thread starter macrumors member

    Zach Schible

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2009
    Location:
    Indiana
    #18
    Great I think that is really what I wanted to hear. Someone who has the same work flow and experience working with the Mac Pro. I never really realized how important a raid setup was until now. I am still pretty new to the idea so I will def be researching it, and probably looking for an '08 Mac Pro. I just don't want to get shafted in the process of trying to find one that is in good order, and reasonably priced.

    Thanks
     
  19. Zach Schible thread starter macrumors member

    Zach Schible

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2009
    Location:
    Indiana
    #19
    I do have a question for you though. for your RAID setup do you need a RAID card? How do you set that up.

    Thanks
     
  20. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #20
    No problem, I didn't see it as an attack at all. :) But I figured I might as well put in some details, as information is spread all over the forum. :D :p
    If you only plan to run OS X and run RAID 0, you won't be required to use hardware RAID. :) The software implementation of RAID 0 would work, and save you the cost of the controller. ;)

    If you want the array available to multiple OS's, then you'd need a hardware solution.
     

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